Obviously, Vietnamese don’t celebrate Halloween. Not with trick or treats or ghost stories like Westerners do, at least.
But if you’re in Vietnam and happened to miss your annual ghostly celebration, or you’re really just in the mood for something creepy, these off-the-beaten-track destinations on our Mekong Delta tour can certainly satisfy both your cravings of spirits and adventure. Let’s get on our way!
The goddess (Source: Internet)
1. Shrine of the virgin Goddess - Ba Chua Xu Shrine (An Giang)
On the outside, Ba Chua Xu Shrine seems innocent enough. Roofed in green tiles, erected with carefully cut boulders, adorned by decorative statues and Buddhist symbols, it is not difficult to recognize one of the Mekong Delta tour’s most visited sites. But architecture is not the reason Ba Chua Xu Shrine is so commonly recommended, the story of its creation centuries ago reveals the amazing holistic power of its owner - the Virgin Goddess...
Legend has it that thousands of years ago, in a Vietnam attack, the Siam armies encountered a large Goddess statue on the mountain. Seeing the statue’s value, they planned to break it down for selling. But upon carrying it down the mountain, the statue suddenly became incredibly heavy and immobile. The group finally got frustrated and left it there.
Eventually, the war ended, and one day, the villagers received a spiritual “calling” from a Goddess, telling them to bring her statue down the mountain. They found the statue, as she had described it to them. Yet again, they could not move it. No matter how many strong men tried to lift it, the statue remained immobile. Right then, one of the girls, as if she’d been struck by lightning, in a panic told everyone that the Goddess needed to be carried by exactly 9 virgin girls! Although in doubt, the villagers did as she said, and strangely enough, when exactly 9 virgins put their hands on it, the statue instantly became “light as a feather”. Since then, people were able to carry it down the mountain and worship the Goddess’s “terrifying power” in such a proper and beautiful shrine today.
Ba Chua Xu Shrine (Source: Internet)
The statue’s incredible supernatural power spreads throughout the region and country, making it one of the most popular destinations in Mekong Delta. So vital is the Goddess’s power that people have a day or two dedicated just to cleaning her statue.
Visiting this temple on the 23rd - 24th April (Lunar Calendar) you might have the chance to witness the “goddess washing ceremony”, an annual spiritual event, which is one of the most bazaar treats of Mekong Delta’s extraordinary culture. Don’t miss out!
Bat temple (Source: Internet)
2. The mysterious temple of bats (Soc Trang)
In contrast to the Virgin Goddess Shrine, people can tell at first sight there is something off about the Temple of Bats.
Come here with excitement, and the first thing you’ll be greeted with are hissing snakes! Stone multi-headed snake statues (apparently symbolizing very important mythical creatures) decorate the temple.. The snake has five heads and five sets of bloody teeth, as if ready to attack any devil who comes close.
The rest of the temple is also built with very distinct architecture, bright yellow roofs, encased with the image of skinny, scaly dragons, and an odd combination of Vietnamese and Cambodian ancient buildings.
Bats at the temple (Source: Internet)
And of course, most especially, as its name implies, there are thousands of bats! Strangely enough, although the temple owns very large and sumptuous fruit trees, this crowded population never dines here. They usually go elsewhere to find food during the day, yet always come back to sleep at night, as if making themselves the temple’s guardians.
If that’s not exotic enough, beside bats, this temple also hosts a herd of five-toe-pigs. It is said that these “disabled” creatures are what is believed to be their owners’ source of misfortune and are thus entrusted to the temple to be purified. However, not only are these “devils” not punished, they are raised, fed and even respectfully buried here.
Today, behind the temple, you can still visit the peculiar graves of the five-toe-pigs! Make sure to witness the bizarre creations for yourself if you dare to visit this temple on your Mekong Delta tour from Saigon.
Beautiful landscape at the Hang Temple (Source: Internet)
3. Temple of the Python Goddess - Hang Temple (Chau Doc)
Situated to the West of Sam Mountain, Chau Doc town, Hang Temple seems to be visit-worthy even if you’re not interested in mysterious or spiritual stories. Climbing up the gorgeous stairway leading to the temple, you’ll be greeted by a well-manicured garden, charming sculptures and a rather colorful, neat looking temple. There’s nothing creepy about this place, you’d claim! But that’s not the case.
This temple was created by an ordinary woman. She was finding a quiet place to worship when she encounters a cave, a fairly remote area from previously mentioned spiritual buildings. What she didn’t know was that in this very cave were a couple of two very cruel giant pythons. Strangely, when she started praying there, neither of the pythons harmed her.
Cave of the mysterious pythons (Source: Internet)
On the contrary, the friendship between the Buddhist nun and the twin pythons admirably grew as time went on. It is said that she named her python friends Thanh Xà and Bạch Xà, feed them vegetarian food and taught them to protect villagers. After her death in 1899, the pythons mysteriously disappeared and no one saw them again.
Today, although no one ever sees pythons appearing anywhere near the temple, the cave is still said to host large venomous snakes. That’s why it is now covered completely, sparing the dark, eerie entrance, making itself a dimly lit tunnel that embodiesa mystifying story - a dare-worthy visit on a Mekong Delta tour.
Skeletons at Ba Chuc Charnel House
4. The haunting memorial ground of Pol Pot attack victims - Ba Chuc Charnel House (Nhà Mồ Ba Chúc)
If the previous stories are half-believed myths, this final story is a straight up nightmare come true. At Chau Doc town, 40 km North, there is a place that displays the outcome from one of humanity’s biggest crimes: The Pol Pot Genocide.
However, unlike most visits on your Mekong Delta tour 1 day, this is no kid-friendly museum, because its most popular exhibition is that of 1,159 skeletons, directly taken from Pol Pot’s final victims in Vietnam.
These “artifacts” are said to be incredibly valuable evidence, representing the simple wish for peace of innocent Vietnamese in this massacre. They were washed and waxed by the hands of Vietnamese most honored chemists and volunteers when the museum was built.
Ba Chuc Charnel House (Source: Internet)
Coming here, besides experiencing being stared back at by soulless screaming skulls, neatly shelved in glass cases, you can also go inside and learn more about Pol Pot and the chilling tragedy that has befallen this land with numerous pictures, materials and even weapons that caused it! Again, parental guidance is advised.
As you can see, a Mekong Delta tour is not all about the floating market. To satisfy your adventure cravings, make sure you pay a visit to these offbeat locations, and hopefully you won’t get nightmares after the best Mekong Delta tour.